The Wonders of Science and Religion

The wonders of science are as moving, as breathtaking, and as illuminating as the greatest wonders of religion. The essential difference, however, is that scientific wonders do not rely on faith, but are empirically reproducible and directly observable. If religion seeks to reveal the wonders behind and beyond the world, science seeks to reveal the wonders in and of the physical world.

Of course, there are some exceptions. Zen Buddhism is certainly a religion, but its focus is on our direct experience of the world in this present moment. Buddhism also presents its teachings as hypotheses to be tested out against daily ex…perience and experience in meditation, as well as against our reason. It presents its teachings as reproducible and rediscoverable by independent observers across time and space and not as mere axioms to be accepted on faith.

Seen in this light, Buddhism is less a religion of faith than a religion of direct discovery. In this sense, it has many elements in common with the basic orientation of science. This is not to say, however, that many elements of mere faith, superstition, and irrationality have not crept into various culturally-inflected versions of Buddhism–such as the Bon-infused Tibetan Buddhism, for instance–over the years. They certainly have. There is a sense, however, in which the basic ‘core’ of Buddhism, is very scientific, though also undeniably religious.


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